Do you dream of starting your own business but are worried you have not got enough cash to get started?
You might want to think again because you do not need a wealthy family member to help you or take out a loan you really cannot afford. If you are bootstrapped for cash and do not have a lot of resources, it is still possible to launch a business and take it far.
Whether you want to start an internet company, become a freelance writer, or launch a consulting firm, the following tips will help you stretch what budget you have and get your business off the ground.
Why you need a business plan
It is very tempting to try to wing it and skip the planning stage.
A business plan, however, is fundamental to how you start, grow, and develop your business. There are some very valid reasons why you need a business plan.
It will help steer your business in the right direction. A good business plan guides you through each stage and you can use it to think through and detail all the key elements.
It is easier than you think. It is not a one-time document but should be something you work on.
It can help you reach business milestones. Think out your business plan and you will be able to step back and think objectively about key elements of the business.
It can help you get funding. Not only that. With a good business plan in place, you are more likely to bring new business partners on board.
There is no wrong way to write one. Pick a format that works for you. There are plenty to choose from online.
When you are just starting out, do not invest too much upfront if you do not have to. Look for ways to keep your overheads, inventory, and labor expenses low. Make every dollar you spend count.
Always ask yourself this particularly important question before you part with any cash, “Will this purchase help me acquire new customers and contribute to my bottom line?” If the answer is no you should seriously consider skipping it.
Before you start out, test your idea to make sure there is a market for it. See if you can create a focus group of your target audience and ask them what their needs and pain points are. There are also online survey tools you can take advantage of. SurveyMonkey is a good example.
Work out of your house
One of the biggest expenses for a new business owner is leasing workspace. You are going to save a lot of money upfront if you find a way to bypass such a large expense. The answer is staring right at you. Launch your business from your home and work out of your house.
It is the perfect answer if your business is mostly online. If you work from home it is easier, you can conduct your business online, have virtual meetings, and check-in with customers and other employees. The money you save on renting a workspace helps you reach your break-even point much quicker.
There are even benefits if your business is not an internet start-up. However, you should consider having a separate entrance for your office. It is more professional and will keep your home and work life separate.
Leverage Your Personal and Professional Networks
When you are just starting out, your marketing budget is going to be limited. Time for you to leverage your personal and professional networks and get the word out that you have started a new business.
Try to be creative. Make use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Reach out to any of your contacts and see if they might be interested in pre-ordering your products. Reaching out in this way also provides some valuable feedback relating to pricing and allows you to assess demand.
There are some highly effective ways you can score media coverage. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is one great example. Sign up and you will be able to connect with journalists, reporters, and bloggers.
Email marketing can also be an effective way to promote a particular service or product. Collect prospect’s email addresses and you will be able to nurture them by sharing valuable content.
Use your own equipment
You may already own some of the items you need to start your new business. Convert them from personal to business assets and they may be tax-deductible. This applies to your smartphone, computer, tablet, and anything else you are going to use regularly for your business.
Purchase products through a wholesaler
When you need to buy items for your business, look for a vendor that helps new businesses get started. A bonus would be if they draft a budget plan with you. To find the right kind of vendor, visit trade shows, or approach a wholesaler or distributor that meets your needs.
The smart thing is to do some research before you commit yourself to any orders. Ask for names and phone numbers of recent customers and give them a call to check out their experiences.
If you must buy equipment, do not be tempted to always buy new ones. Businesses go under all the time and you can get almost anything you need, from office furniture to manufacturing equipment, second hand.
Take Advantage of Free Websites and Social Media for Advertising
There are lots of freebies to take advantage of when it comes to advertising your business. It has become common practice for new business owners to build and maintain their own websites. Free web-building tools are ten-a-penny, but the most popular is WordPress.
Extend the reach of your website by writing a blog, using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media channels. Social media has many advantages if you choose it to market your business. One of the most significant is that it allows you to reach a much larger audience. Millions of people use social media platforms, which makes it a great opportunity to reach a large pool of people who might be interested in your services or products.
Social media is one of the few marketing strategies that allow you to connect directly with your target audience. It is easy to see who is interested in what your business has to offer because they are the ones following your social media account.
You can post organic content for free, which opens countless opportunities for you to connect with leads at no cost to you. Post as much content as you want, whether it's photos, videos, infomercials, or how-to articles, and put your brand out there in front of people.
Use Low-Cost Subscription Services
You do not need to worry about building a team of IT experts to help your business as Google and Amazon offer all the application storage and computing power you will ever need. Hiring a team of IT gurus can be an expensive undertaking.
There is also the cost of computer servers and complex applications you would have to add to the equation. Low-cost subscription software and cloud computing are expenses you must pay every month, and they can be scaled to match your needs and the size of your business.
Hire a virtual assistant to lighten the load
There is a way you can skip many new business expenses. Use remote contract services and you will save on payroll, employee benefits, and office equipment. There are also thousands of low-cost freelancers only happy to work for you.
A virtual assistant, for example, can provide the targeted expertise you are looking for. You also benefit from a certain amount of flexibility because you can increase and decrease resources and you learn what your business needs in the way of human resources.
Now that you have a few useful tips to help you get started, there is no time like the present. Do something you love at a cost you can afford. Do not let anything stand in your way.
This article was written by Ian Carroll of Digital Funnel. Ian recently set up a Marketing Agency and is a firm believer in people following their dreams to set-up a business.
Communication skills are the invisible recipe for success in any area of life whether that is business or personal interactions. Although many people and companies talk about communication skills, the fact is that these are sometimes not utilized very effectively and this can make all the difference between a successful business with a sound reputation or a personal relationship that is largely happy and fulfilling. Therefore, it is useful to look at how communication skills are beneficial in all areas of life and career development.
How Communication Skills Help Us To Connect With Others
At a fundamental level, communication skills are about connecting as human beings, whether that is in family and domestic settings or through careers and business transactions. Those who are excellent communicators understand that they need to tailor their approach to fit the situation, whether that is chatting with family and friends or with acquaintances, business contacts, or strangers.
The key attributes are empathy and respect and treating others as you wish to be treated which goes a long way in most human interactions. People want to know that you are listening and that you care about what they have to say, so if you are genuine and really take on board where the other person is coming from this is generally likely to have great results.
How Communication Skills Enable Us To Make Lasting Bonds
Those who are naturally good communicators know that consistency in communication will not only build respect and credibility but also trust. Although you can set the scene with an initial introduction and give a good impression, it is only with time that the other person will know that you are sincere and well-meaning.
Therefore, without being too pre-meditated, it is a good idea to choose your words carefully, or where you may be in a business or professional setting prepare for the meeting or discussion so that you understand the topic well and know what you want to impart and how you wish to come across.
Nobody responds well to aggressive, rude, or dominating behavior styles so always try to stay calm and objective even when a problem looks as though it may escalate. By keeping your cool, you won’t be tempted to say something in the heat of the moment that you may regret later, and you may actually be able to diffuse a difficult situation.
By adopting a patient and calm attitude in conjunction with honesty and empathy you will certainly gain respect. In addition, people are very tuned in to those who make lots of false promises so it is important that you don’t promise things that you may not be able to deliver.
This kind of action and attitude will enable you to build a strong bond with the other person or people, whether that is in friendships, personal relationships, or professional circumstances. By cultivating this approach it will always stand you in good stead for a happier personal or work life.
Communication Skills For Career Development
Communication skills are of paramount importance in business and career development. Practically all disciplines and sectors require skills in speaking, listening, writing, effective questioning, and negotiation.
At the initial stage of your career, it is important to be able to present yourself effectively for employers and interviewers and to articulate well in order to get across your skills, experience, and attributes. As well as visual presentations such as dress and non-verbal communication such as body language, employers will be looking for those who can put their point across succinctly, impart information, and will be keen to take on those who can listen and who seem approachable team players.
Communication Skills In Business
As good communication threads through all the fabric of society, business is no exception and strong communication skills are seen not just as a valuable asset but as a necessity by many companies. There is a multitude of situations where these skills are required, such as marketing and promotions, people management, sales, and building long-standing relationships with clients and customers. Most people have had bad customer service experiences and they know that this can mean the difference between whether you deal with that company again, so it is vital to get this aspect right in a business setting.
From emails, and promotional literature to how you answer telephone queries or compose memos, reports, and circulars, communication skills make all the difference and are crucial in keeping people informed, on your side, and happy. There are very few areas of a business that do not have some communication elements, so the more you can communicate accurate information in the correct style and tone the more successful you will be, and the more business operations will run smoothly.
Communication Skills For Leadership
Good leaders demonstrate classic signs of great communication skills. Through inspiring and motivating by words and actions they communicate a strong sense of the organizational direction and mission. They not only communicate clearly and with passion and integrity, but they get to the heart of what motivates teams and individuals to ensure they feel part of a business and that they are consulted and valued.
The opposite is also true when leaders are not good communicators. Staff and employees can become demotivated or disillusioned and work operations may not be as effective. The power of words to communicate ideas, goals, and aspirations cannot be emphasized too much, as words have the power to change personal relationships, group dynamics, and even society on occasions.
Effective leaders also know how to act as the conduit between ideas and goals, and they use the language that people in an organization will relate to on a personal level. They can translate this into the right kind of terminology for the audience whether that is through the spoken word, emails, a business plan, or other documentation.
Communication Skills For Educational Enhancement
Many people have qualifications such as diplomas, degrees, and masters which show a certain level of skill and intelligence. However, emotional intelligence has come to the forefront in business and professional settings in recent years, and this is not something that can be studied at a university.
Even people with high-level qualifications may lack this kind of intelligence which some people possess without every attending a higher education institute. Psychologists, employers, and many organizations have come to realize that without the necessary level of emotional intelligence of which communication is key, an employee may not be able to communicate ideas, motivate others, work effectively as part of a team or gain the respect of colleagues.
Good communication skills which take into account the wishes and needs of others and how you interact with them to build respect and trust are now seen as essential as part of good business relationships. Whatever position others are in they are still human beings, so by building relationships based on mutual values and wishes a mutual bond is formed that creates a positive vibe and often a good outcome.
Therefore, by taking time to understand others and their needs and think about your own communication style you can learn to become a great communicator, and this will enhance any other skills you have and make a huge difference in your interactions with others in all types of situations.
This article was written by Seamus Dunne of Conversation Piece. Conversation Piece is a leading player in the telecommunications industry. They ensure their clients can effectively communicate to meet their business needs.
Nothing seems to be working the way you’d like it to; you slave all week/month just to survive, and you’re still not happy. So you decide to get out of your bubble of misery and open up your own business. After a considerable amount of contemplation, you come to the conclusion that opening a fitness studio is the optimal business to start.
Whether you’re an expert in aerobics and bulking or not, it is very clear that today’s target market is constantly looking to enhance their bodies.
Before Opening a Gym or Fitness Club, Consider These 5 Things
1. Standing Out
Motivated by all the potential opportunities, you start to blaze a trail toward your dream fitness center. While it might be true that the fitness industry is somewhat saturated with fitness centers, the sheer volume of options and themes one could customize their gym will allow you to uniquely set yourself apart from the competition. That’s why the approach you’ll follow in your gym is one of the most basic things to consider when starting your own fitness business.
2. Fitness Agenda
The introduction of specialized boutique fitness studios—and their raging success—have adjusted customers’ mentalities to expect their fitness centers to offer a collection of all fitness and physical enhancement techniques. Clients right now prefer to have a fully equipped gym and the presence of fitness professionals to aid them in their exercises.
So far, these two customer attractions are available in everyday gyms, but being a fully running fitness operation with massage therapists, nutritionists, and personal trainers are the ultimate goal of any gym owner.
The truth is, almost all brand-name fitness centers started up with a fraction of the services they provide right now. They mainly start with a simple aerobic fitness center, and as their client base grows, they also start to grow and expand into more fitness territories.
On the other hand, brand names like CrossFit have remained a specialized fitness entity from their inception. They only cater to those who are seeking a more personalized and less aggressive form of fitness. Their success came from the fact that they provide something unique and stick to it. Finding your unique fitness approach is the first step of the journey.
3. Starting Capital
So far, you’ve selected the fitness agenda your gym will follow but have no clue yet about how to finance that dream. When you open a normal business, say a grocery store, you are initially required to spend your capital on acquiring the goods and a prime location.
Fitness centers, however, have the added cost of buying gym equipment that fills your center with all the needs of a fitness enthusiast. Furthermore, you don’t just have a couple of employees, but a fleet of marketers, salespeople and fitness trainers. This results in the accumulation of a hefty startup fee.
Image source: Pinterest
Fortunately, there are countless business financiers that specialize in startup fitness businesses. They might provide raw money as a loan to start your own business, or more conveniently, they could finance your equipment for you. Enter Gymstarters, the leading financier for new gyms in the US. They provide treadmills and dumbbells for belated fees—just browse here for more detailed descriptions. Their personable business plan will ensure the success of your opening.
4. Choosing A Name
To begin your journey toward your financial independence, you obviously must pick out a unique name that accurately captures your business’s theme. Begin by brainstorming the terms that might work. Words like gold, titanium, and metal are all key elements of a workout and fitness organization to signify top-quality, endurance, and energy.
Of course, these suggestions are meant mainly for bulking gyms, but not exclusively. The goal here is to think about the words that people want to talk about when they hear your name.
5. Startup or Franchise?
As previously mentioned, there are countless approaches one could have with their fitness plans. This creates the opportunity for you to either start your own business and keep it as a small local business, or grow it to become a franchise. If neither of those is the desired endgame, you could always pay a royalty for an already established brand name, like CrossFit.
After the many questions answered above, you are almost ready to start your own fitness business. The only remaining thing is to file for a state license, and definitely get your fitness center insured. In the end, the process of opening up your own business can be intimidating to even the bravest of us—especially when it’s about getting in a line of business that’s filled with competition. However, mindfully considering all these notions would surely make your journey run smoother.
Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. We wake up, check Facebook, and post a photo of our morning coffee on Instagram while checking world news on Twitter.
The fact that it has brought us that much closer means there is no excuse for not harnessing this power and creating positive change in the world. If people took it upon themselves to commit to spreading positivity and trying to extend a helping hand online whenever needed, humanity will be better off.
Millions of initiatives have started online, especially those about world hunger and poverty eradication, as they resonate easily with all people across the globe. There are many ways to make positive changes through various online platforms, and listed below are a few.
5 Ways to Make Positive Changes Through Online Platforms
Re-sharing News of Worthy Causes
You do not have to be a wealthy businessman or a celebrity in order to call for attention to a cause you are passionate about. As mentioned on https://www.trvst.world, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” It all starts with one person. When that person shares important information or statistics about climate change, for example, having others re-sharing this post on multiple platforms will make the news go viral and involved governments will be called to action.
Provide Your Knowledge and Experience
Share your experience with those seeking to benefit from it. If you are a teacher, you can take a couple of hours every week to record some online lessons and make them available for free on video-sharing platforms. You can create your own virtual classroom and target students in underserved communities in poor countries.
A successful businessman can share insightful workshops to encourage small business owners and educate them about entrepreneurship. Moreover, a pediatrician can film daily tips to share on moms’ groups online. No matter your experience, you can help.
Support Small Local Businesses
Huge brands with shops around every street corner sure are great. However, whenever you can, try to help those businesses that support the welfare of local struggling families. Buy meals from a housewife who operates from her own kitchen for some extra money. Share your positive experience and encourage others to follow suit instead of resorting to junk food.
Review Products and Services
By sharing your honest reviews about consumer products and services, you will benefit other people and help them avoid wasting money on an ineffective item. Not only will you be helping potential consumers, but you will also force producers or service providers to take corrective actions and fix the reported issue. This will promote a transparent online environment for all parties involved.
Do Not Spread Negativity
Perhaps the easiest, most straightforward way to make a positive change online is to simply not promote negative ideas! Refraining from online bullying and spreading rumors and fake news can be as good as any other positive action on this list. If people committed to their values and integrity online the same way they would do in the real world, this would maintain a positive environment and guarantee a pleasant experience for everyone.
Social media is an essential tool in current times. We need to appreciate its strength and utilize it for the benefit of our world.
A successful online business entails hard work and serious marketing strategies. But, of course, these are not the only things that your online business should have. First and foremost, you should know what it takes to make yours a big hit amidst stiff competition.
Essential Tips for Running a Successful Online Business
Below are some helpful tips that will surely work to make your business become successful.
Take care of your web assets
Your web assets include your website and any other social media accounts that you use for your business. Your hosting account is also part of your web assets. All these assets have to be organized and well taken care of. Make sure that these are always optimized for the success of your brand. You can make this possible by using certain reliable online tools that allow you to target those niches that actually work for your brand. Educate yourself with the use of different online tools that will make the process of web asset maintenance a lot easier. Reading web information or reviews is necessary. Jungle Scout tools review can give you a heads up on the tools and features that are worth considering for your website optimization. Know that the competition is real online and if you are not using the right tools for your web assets, chances are high that your business will be left behind.
Be responsible for keeping customer information
Keeping customer information is so crucial for the success of any online business. Remember that as an online entrepreneur, you have an obligation to take care of your customer’s information. See to it that you have separate backups and devices where you can store customer information safely. Don’t just let anyone see this relevant customer information and only those who are in charge should be granted access to these files. As soon as the information is no longer needed, such as a customer’s credit card information, a process of destroying this information must also be in place.
Know your competitors
Any successful online entrepreneur knows a lot about his competitors. You have to be certain who you are competing against so that when it comes to planning for business marketing strategies, you won’t find yourself doing a lot of guesswork as to which may work or not. When you know your competition, every move you make in your marketing efforts are all geared towards toppling your competitor. You have to know what makes your competitors' products click, so you can make yours better. Otherwise, you run the risk of just settling for mediocrity where many of your marketing efforts become futile.
Work towards protecting your brand’s reputation
Protecting your brand’s reputation online is so crucial. Don’t let anyone ruin such a reputation by making negative and unfounded claims about your brand. Be vigilant online and use tools such as Google Alerts so you will be able to check immediately any website that mentions your brand and see if the information they share about your business is either positive or detrimental to your brand’s success.
Running an online business can be daunting. You have to constantly educate yourself with what’s the latest and know that the online world is constantly changing. It can be very dynamic that if you stop paying attention to these changes, you are at risk of losing your consumer base and eventually your business.
Stay ahead of the game by keeping yourself well informed all the time. Don’t rest on your laurels because the competition never stops.
Great customer service starts from the ground up. I’ve partnered with TELUS, a company obsessed with improving customer service every day, to share stories of companies across Canada that are showing us how we can all expect more. To learn more about TELUS and how they are putting customers first, check out www.telus.com/expectmore
Customer Service Excellence starts with Tiny Noticeable Touches
TNT goes a long way when it comes to remembering a brand or an experience. How a client, guest or customer is left feeling is remembered and shared. The simple smile, whether in person or over the phone. A genuine acknowledgement of a customer when they enter your establishment and sincere thank you when they are leaving whether they have purchased anything during that visit or not goes a long way.
Looking for opportunities to go above an beyond is a sure way to create a loyal customer.
A few of my favorite T.N.T. experiences that stick out in my mind span from a weekend get-away, product deliveries, restaurants and travel.
Our first night at Rowena's Inn… a little piece of Heaven.
Rowena's Inn in Harrison Mills, BC. Arriving at the majestic landscape of the Sandpiper Golf Course on the Harrison River was a special treat in itself. As we settled into our private cottage, we discover a lovely written note from the Inn owner, along with
a bottle of local wine as an added treat. I recall thinking what a lovely space, wood fireplace, a grand king size bed, board games, and a huge soaker tub (AND, how great a cup of coffee or glass of vino would be). Sure enough they thought of everything. The tiny noticeable touches made a lasting impression and an extra special experience we have shared over and over (and over again – including this post!)
And of course, because I had such an epic experience at Sandpiper Golf Course too… had to include this little video… BIRD-EH!
Yup, this just happened! Birdie! #TourismHarrisonMills
Posted by Dai Manuel on Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Not to long ago, I was chatting with a friend who was telling us about a restaurant she recommended. She was mentioning how the food and drinks were really good, but it was the customer care that blew her away. The tasters at the door were a great touch while they waited for their table and once seated I guess their meal was taking a little longer than expected and the server felt bad that the couple would be rushed to get tickets for the comedy show they were planning to attend that night. Secretly the manager at JOEY Restaurants secured two tickets for the event and informed them to enjoy the rest of their JOEY experience stress free. No added cost to the restaurant or my friend, but an above and beyond gesture that has benefited beyond that nights dinner.
Question: Have you ever had a parcel delivered to your place? How about a box that was crafted from an old church, containing inside a personally-made, artificial hand holding a local beer bottle, along with a fake eye, snake blood, and tickets to a haunted house adventure? Okay maybe a NOT SO tiny touch, but definitely noticeable. With a number of invites to attend certain events, launches, product reviews, etc., the Fearmongers grabbed our attention and ensured a spot in our calendar for making the unique effort to go above and beyond the typical email or card invite.
Fearmongers definitely got our attention when we received this on our doorstep.
Another unexpected favorite was our family's first trip to Disney Land. We were typical guests at the California Grand, yet felt like absolute royalty. From the special evening events they host to the character visits during the buffet breakfast. One night we received a phone call to our room and it was an invite to enter Disney Land one hour early to view the return of NEO. Michael Jackson's NEO was opening the next day and guests of the California Grande were being offered an exclusive pre-show entry. Entering the infamous park before the public is unreal! Walking down the middle of the downtown Disney boulevard, with no one else around, seeing the rides fast asleep before awaking for their first runs of the day, and the amazing calmness in a enviroment that is normally full of hustle and bustle… we will never forget that experience.
Another fine example of how a simple gesture for a couple regular guests was received extremely well! (and do you think I share this story with a lot of people? I sure do!)
TNT Tip #2: Being aware of the impact customer care has on a brand is a must
The Walmart greeter seemed strange at first, but I didn't realize how much I appreciated the simple smile and hello when I walked in the store until it went missing.
The West Jet partners seem like real people, having common sense conversations versus the robotic scripts of some of their competitors. I truly appreciate being heard and having agents take the time to work through my concerns, questions and requests.
When I set up my new cellphone with TELUS, I learned the agent on the other end has recently become a dad, he walked me through my plan and ensured the coverage met my needs. He was real and even followed up a week later to make sure all was going well and see if I had any other questions.
Another example is the service manager at Brian Jessel BMW – he walked me through my entire invoice and even went the extra mile and emailed me a few weeks post-service call to ensure my vehicle was doing okay. Wow moments!
TNT Tip #3: Communication and getting clear on expectations is key!
Taking pride in your service shows. Communicating and getting clear on outcomes and expectations is next level of TNT service.
For example our floors were redone in our home. The company replacing the carpet with hardwood arrived on time and were done as scheduled — Awesome! Upon arrival home all looked good (from afar). As we went to create dinner, we noticed our entire kitchen was covered in a sheet of sawdust, which led to us discover our entire home had a layer of dust… the walls, baseboards, counters, couch…absolute yuck and pain in the butt!
It would have been nice had the contractor communicated to remove all items from the counter, cover our furniture or warn us we will need to spend a lot of our time cleaning up our space post install. Our exciting return home to our upgraded living space was tarnished and left a sour taste in our mouth to ever refer or use Gerry's team again. (Note, I refrained from mentioning the brand in this post? Missed opportunity!)
In closing, any company or professional that puts emphasis on the TNT of communication, customer service, and client empathy, is already going above and beyond the industry ‘norm'.
My advice to any companies out there that aren't taking a genuine interest in their customers, their concerns and feedback – you're boat is sinking! And what starts as a trickle in today's hyper-connected economy, can quickly become a surging leak you'll never plug. So, either learn to swim or create a humanized strategy to deal with the leaks that happened (and proactively create a plan to deal with the ones that have yet to occur… because it's not a matter of ‘if' but a matter of ‘when').
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This post is sponsored by TELUS. The opinions are my own…
And to be absolutely clear, this is my disclaimer: “Just so you know, I have been compensated to share my ideas on this topic. Sometimes it is in the form of products, or services or even money… But here’s the thing; I won’t share anything with you that I don’t fully support. It doesn't matter what it is, or how much they are willing to give me, if I don’t believe in it, It won’t be on my site. Seriously. You’ll just have to trust me on this.”~ Moose